The potential of fluid fertilisers for broadacre cropping in Australia

GRDC - Horizon Rural Management

Type: research report
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

The project started with an examination of liquid fertilisers. The term fluid fertiliser has been adopted throughout this report to include both liquid fertilisers and suspensions.  Liquid fertilisers are clear homogenous solutions, while suspensions are mixtures of fertiliser and water, where some of the fertiliser may not dissolve.

What is the problem?

The study aimed to

  1. Quantify potential benefits and disadvantages using fluid fertilisers.
  2. Identify where the benefits of fluid fertilisers are likely to be significant, in terms of climate, soil type and cropping system.
  3. Identify and describe barriers to using fluid fertilisers, and steps that might be taken to overcome them.
  4. Provide recommendations to the GRDC on future actions

What did the project involve?

The project has collated research information from a wide variety of sources, from Australia and overseas. Contact has been made with people from the fertiliser industry in all states as well as farmers using fluid fertilisers. Trends in pricing, new products and possibilities have been examined.

Actual case studies of farmers using fluid fertilisers and potential scenarios are presented to analyse the potential advantages of using fluid fertilisers, both economically and practically, in terms of logistics and handling.

The project team met with researchers and farmers over two days in a workshop in Adelaide to discuss their findings and experience from local farmer contact in five states. The workshop identified the situations where fluid fertilisers are likely to have an increasing role, along with steps to overcome barriers to their use by farmers

What were the key topics discussed?

  1. Overview of current usage of fluid fertilisers
  2. Trends and potential for use of fluid fertilisers
  3. Fluid fertiliser use in Australia – products and pricing
  4. Benefits of fluid fertilisers over granular products
  5. Drawbacks with the use of fluid fertilisers
  6. Economic comparisons of fluid fertilisers
  7. Research on the use of fluid fertilisers
  8. Discussion on research results for fluid P fertilisers
  9. Glasshouse research on the potential for fluid P responses
  10. Discussion of research on fluid N fertilisers

Final comment

Precision farming techniques with variable rate application of fertiliser may stimulate further use of fluid fertilisers. The benefits of variable rate application are likely to be greatest on large farms in low rainfall areas, where cost savings on fertiliser application are important.

20003 - Australia - GRDC - Horizon Rural Management
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